Monday, 26 December 2011

Issue #13: Back to Action

A couple of months back I talked about why I dropped Action Comics and how it just didn’t seem to be very Superman to me.  I’ve since picked it back up for a couple of reasons, the first of which is a little embarrassing…
I was reading Superman #3, and there’s a reference to Action’s continuity (Action Comics is set something like eight years before Superman) in one of those old school editorial inserts they’ve been using in comics for-fucking-ever, that went like this: “—But nonetheless Metropolis now found itself home to a superpowered figure who had no problems taking the law into his own hands.  One who, it would soon be revealedto the public, was in fact an alien.  But this quickly became backpage news as the entire city of Metropolis was attacked by a far bigger threat.  Another alien life form called The Collector Of Worlds” which was followed by a big fat asterisk.  What could this asterisk mean?  I best scan downwards to find the explanation….. ah yes!  Here we are, it says, “*SEE ACTION COMICS #4”.
The oldest cheap method of attempting to hook readers into buying one more comic they don’t yet purchase, and I ate it up like free pizza.

Actually I’m not quite that easily swayed.  There’s another reason I returned to this title.  Readers would know I’m enjoying my Supes stuff right now.  Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, loving the lot.  I would probably buy a few issues of Krypto if they gave him his own book at the moment.  I bought the Superman blu ray box set too, and the extras are everything one could ask for.  One doco on the bonus disc details the history of the character from inception to (almost) today and all the formats the son of Krypton has graced, from early Action Comics, strips, film serials, TV and movies.  From this I learned something I’d never considered, that the incorruptible, all-round good guy, more human than human Superman that I’d revered and felt so important to the character that I could never accept something else…. that Superman was invented later.  It would seem that the Superman of current Action Comics fame is actually a pretty faithful recreation of how Superman started out, a hero for the depression era, who would happily dangle a rich fuck from a building.

With this new found understanding I phoned my local comic shop and told them I’d made a terrible mistake, and to put Action Comics back on my pull list immediately.  They laughed, probably expecting this very call before long. 
“Superman, Supergirl and Superboy please.”
“You’ll want Action Comics too, right”
“No, I think it’s shit.”
What a douche I’ve been.

Secret Avengers #18 & #19   Going through this blog today I was surprised to find I have not reviewed any issues of Secret Avengers.  A glaring omission from me, as it’s one of my most enjoyed comics of this year.  The Secret Avengers are a black ops unit of superheroes/badass operatives formed by Steve Rogers, and a ragtag bunch they are, almost reading like a list of who you would not put into a team together:  Beast, Moon Knight, Ant Man, Black Widow, Valkyrie, War Machine, Shang Chi….. but that’s what makes it interesting.  Admittedly, an issue featuring the whole lot of them side by side is rare and has not been done for a while.  Warren Ellis took over writing this book from issue #16 and instantly made the whole premise a lot cooler.  The Secret Avengers now seem to operate in three or four man squads specifically chosen for each mission which allows each issue to get the point across rather than getting bogged down in giving each character their two pages worth. 
Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter and Shang Chi are tasked with a mind-bending recovery mission in issue #18, which flashes back to the briefing for Beast to explain the trippy science behind what’s going on.  This is done exceptionally well and makes for one of the best issues in the series.  And if that’s not enough, it’s peppered with ultra violent kung-fu that hurts to look at (in a good way!).  Issue #19 sees Steve, Sharon, Black Widow and Moon Knight head to Marvel-universe-fictional-eastern-European-nation Symkaria to stop a transaction of a super powering drug to the Shadow Council, but find they didn’t quite have all the facts going in.  This one’s worth it alone for the double page where Steve Rogers hits a bouncer so hard he seems to almost destroy his face.

The beauty of this title is that at the moment each issue works as a stand alone story, and readers could pick up any of the Ellis-penned issues and get an idea of where the book is at.  Even better is the fact that the format still works for people like me who have collected the lot.  –Jem

Batman #3   After the threat from the near-mythical Court Of Owls on Bruce Wayne’s life, naturally Batman gets his detective on to try and discover just who these mysterious people are.  This issue starts with a gang fight, but doesn’t need to other than to perhaps have some kind of action scene to keep the kids happy in an issue that’s really about investigation.  And a nice little investigation it is, particularly when Grag Capullo shows us panel after same-but-different panel of multiple headquarters for the Owls, another great moment in this book.  Wake me up, man!  Capullo’s on Batman!  Let’s hope this team lasts a while, because it’s ticking the boxes very nicely at the moment.  –Jem

A side note: while on Facebook the other day I received this cute christmas card of sorts from Oz Comic-Con.  I was struck by just how fucking jolly Batman looks with his fake Santa beard.

I was first to comment, with "Batman's parents died."  This was promptly deleted.
I can only assume whoever's on social media promo for Oz Comic-Con either:
a) Thinks that we've all been "led along to believe" the dark, brooding Batman is the truest incarnation of the character and we should all "stop being led by Hollywood and that dick Chris Nolan" who has "never seen an episode of the 60's TV show in his life" (in which case the guy's a douchebag), or,
b) is an orphan (in which case I'm a douchebag).

Thanks kids.  And since you're here why not click that like button just to the right and send us a little internet love.  

Friday, 9 December 2011

Issue #12: An unashamed excuse for a Stan Lee moment.

A curious article from Washington newspaper The Huffington Post this week, reporting on a man who robbed a bank wearing a black Spider-Man costume last Wednesday afternoon.  The offender remains at large.  Check out the article here.
The article points out the possibility that the symbiote could have control of Spidey, and that our favourite web-spinner may not be to blame.  But I have another theory.  I’ve read enough Spidey to know that it’s more likely Spidey thwarted the robbery and saved the day, and that pesky J. Jonah Jameson has cooked this story up in his relentless campaign against our favourite web head!  (Man, Stan Lee must have loved being able to do that sort of rant in all those comics.  I might do that more often.)

Justice League #3   This issue sees Wonder Woman step into the title and bring a little light hearted comedy with her, as she walks around town spouting talk of harpies, she’s oblivious to how almost everyone else thinks she’s a weirdo.  Meanwhile the (as yet incomplete) Justice League pretty much spend the rest of the issue fighting Darkseid’s minions, and Wonder Woman joins the battle.  The re-origin of Cyborg is a supporting story here, and the League’s final member-to-be pops up on the last page.  Justice League is a must for Jim Lee fans, and is one of the nicest comics to look at in the 52.  The story is not for the impatient though.  Although action-packed, development is a slow burn and you’ll likely have to be devoted long term to get something out of it.  This will probably suit Justice League though, and the only complaint I have about this book is it’s white bread logo.  -Jem

Detective Comics #3   From what I’m reading and hearing, Detective Comics seems to be overlooked, even shitcanned in the shadow of the superior Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo Batman comic, and while fans of the dark knight are spoiled for choice right now, I recommend you don’t let Detective fall to the bottom of the heap.  Admittedly, and as at least one local reviewer pointed out, some of Batman’s detective monologues can be a bit silly, though I also found some lines in Arkham City to sound a bit cheesy, and I think if we put all comic book dialogue up for hard analysis we’d get more than a few chuckles and groans.  Three issues in, there’s two reasons why I’m sticking with this title.  Firstly, it’s sick and twisted in a way that makes me wonder what the 90’s Batman movies might have been like if they let David Fincher do them.  Secondly, this book, unlike so many these days, works as a monthly title.  I seem to remember just fine what happened in the last issue, and don’t feel like this would read better in a collected edition.  It’s Batman on the trail of a serial killer that cuts pieces off people and sews them to other bits of people, and who’s out for revenge against Gordon.  What’s not to like?  -Jem

All Star Western #3   An issue I quite enjoyed, although the odd couple of Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham I have so enjoyed seems to wrap up here.  A shame, because the interaction between these opposite characters is a real strength and offers up plenty to hang a good tale from.  But there’s a certain comedic angle to Jonah Hex I’ve come to like and I’m happy to follow him in this book.  That and the fact a brain-splattering gunfight can erupt at any given moment.  A good story with enjoyable dialogue, and pretty far from every other comic I collect.  Check it out if you haven’t already.  -Jem

Superman #3   Man, I’m on a huge Supes kick right now.  I can’t get enough of things to do with pretty much any shit that comes from Krypton.  And I dig this book.  Lois Lane gets a little more time in the first half, and I really like her integrity in her news producer role when there’s a Superman slam story in the works.  The man of steel faces off with another strange alien that mutters “Krypton” in it’s own strange language, this time one with freezing ice powers.  Supes doesn’t have time to solve the mystery and focuses on putting the beast down, but this one’s far from over.  The media is again used as a character and a plot device, this time to recap the story at the beginning and to commentate the battle as it’s being reported live.  Can’t wait for more.  -Jem

Black Panther #524   Black Panther fans are having their patience tested this year.  I’ve loved how T’Challa filled in for Daredevil after Matt Murdock’s hiatus following the events of Shadowland, when Daredevil The Man Without Fear became Black Panther The Man Without Fear, numbering remaining intact.  As The Black Panther worked without powers at street level in Hell’s Kitchen the book struck a chord with me.  Then the Fear Itself crossover landed, and while I didn’t mind where it went there was still that bane of the event crossover sticking in my paw, that things were going along just fine in my niche comic before everything was interrupted.  Then at #523.1 the book’s title changed to Black Panther The Most Dangerous Man Alive which while kind of badass doesn’t quite make sense, and now that Daredevil is back to his old self again one becomes confused as to whose book belongs to who.  And before there’s a chance to flesh out why Black Panther is considered the most dangerous man alive we arrive at #524, crossing over again, this time with Spider Island.  Now, had you not followed Spider Island, a Spider-Man event in which everyone in New York becomes infected with a virus granting them spider powers, you’d be fucked as to why the Black Panther suddenly has six arms.  I’ve read all of Spider Island and even I thought it was weird!  I guess the publishers wanted to keep continuity intact for all New York superheroes and I suppose that makes for a valid point, but the execution has to be good too, or it falls to shit.  All this aside, we should now be able to get down to business with BP for at least another six months, and there is an intruiging setup here where the Kingpin, working out of Shadowland, seems to have developed an interest in T’Challa’s home nation of Wakanda.  Kingpin’s chief attack dog Lady Bullseye looks set to be a possible recurring nemesis too.  The Black Panther’s a favourite of mine and hopefully we can look forward to this book regaining a little lost momentum.  -Jem

Thanks kids.  Ty and myself shall return next week.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Issue #11: Double burger!

Greetings!  As mentioned a couple of weeks back, Comic Burger is now a team of two.  We hope this will bring a bit more variety of opinion to the blog, and I promise Ty’s comic reading history far outweighs my own!  The cool thing about having Ty write reviews here is that while we each pick up a shitload of titles each month, we actually have very few of these titles in common, which allows a wider coverage.  No promises, but I’d like to get the blog back onto a more regular schedule, so we’ll likely be able to do that too.

Comic Burger is on Facebook.  Joining us is the best way to follow Comic Burger when we post new stuff.  Just click here!  Come on, it’s one more shitty Facebook group, it’s not gonna kill ya!

Special hello to our small group of readers in Russia!  Comic Burger is second in popularity in the largest nation on Earth only to Australia.  Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.

Okay, so I’ll hand the controls over to Ty to introduce himself and review a couple of comics, then I’ve got a few reviews too….

Hey there everyone! Welcome to my first reviews! Jem asked me to have a go so I'll give it my best. Like Jem, I got the entire lot of DC New 52 #1s. Unlike Jem, I couldn't help myself and got every #2 as well! Some hit, some miss. Some definitely gave me what I needed to drop it on the spot; some surprised me and will keep me around a little longer. We've divvied up our DC title choices so we're not buying the same ones and get to read each others when we hit All Star Comics together. I was primarily a Marvel reader, Avengers & X-Titles, with the odd independent that caught my interest. Before the New 52, my DC interest was just Red Robin and Batgirl (with my beloved Stephanie Brown); two titles I am still a little disappointed that didn't make the relaunch. Red Robin has landed in "Teen Titans", and "Batgirl" as a title lives on with Barbara Gordon once again walking and donning the cowl; so purely as a carry over, those two titles were in for me. So the OTHER 50? After watching a well put together "Blackest Night" trailer a while back on the Green Lantern: First Flight animated movie DVD, I was sucked in straight away. The concept sounded awesome, and a great way to bring dead characters back to life. Then the revelation that there were other coloured Lantern Corps as well?!? Don't ask me. It's gotta be something from my collector mind and childhood: "Multiple colours of the same thing?? AWESOME!!!" So at my comic dealer's suggestion, I am getting GL trades from "Rebirth" onwards, and am playing catch up to now. So the four Lantern titles are in for me on an issue by issue basis until I figure whether the concept I inexplicably love can be backed with quality production. All up, I'm sticking with nearly 18 (!!!) DC titles for the time being. Some I have already decided will remain on my pull-list long term, some I'm keeping around because I think they'll get better, and strangely, 1 or 2 I'm getting just a little while longer out of sheer morbid curiosity because they are that BAD!! (You fucking hear me Catwoman?!)

For this burger, I'm gonna talk about the four Green Lantern titles: Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and Red Lanterns. Jem has already reviewed the #1's, and we're 50/50 with our feelings on these. Good or bad, I'm going to try and give these titles to #5 each to convince me to keep or not.

Green Lantern #2

I do agree with Jem that these titles seem to be in no way a reboot.  At the same time, I think enough will be told early on via exposition from the main characters that it won't matter. Sinestro, who's now green again not yellow, provides a tid bit here and there while speaking to Hal Jordan, makes him a Lantern again as for some reason he isn't, and does this by creating a ring for him! I have NO idea either what came before so am just going along for the ride. Sinestro is seemingly good again, killing Sinestro Corps/Yellow Lanterns & destroying their yellow power rings with aplomb and efficiency. I'm enjoying the art with the massive Sinestro Corps Yellow creature at the end being killed with a giant green sword!

Green Lantern Corps #2

I really enjoyed this issue. Dialogue was occasionally a little weak but I thought it good superhero/scifi fanfare. Corpses on a world with its entire ocean gone; some opposing force seemingly using the same green power based on Will as the GLs, with the potential for a literal "battle of willpower" story set up accordingly, and a very graphic scene with a Lantern being deprived of all his limbs, and his power ring put around his tongue! Definitely set up enough to keep me in for #3!

Green Lantern: New Guardians #2

Remember me talking about my inexplicable excitement over the multi-coloured Lantern thing? This comic embodies that concept!  Not much more is explained in issue 2 as to why all these power rings, one from each different coloured corps, are converging on Kyle. The last panel has him wearing them all and if I'm not mistaken, possibly turning in to what I think is a "White Lantern".  I know hardly enough of recent GL mythology to know what any of this means unfortunately, but I am left intrigued.  Perhaps in #3 I'll have more to go on.

Red Lanterns #2

Some nicely drawn panels of a cool looking space ship gunning down some innocent children on an alien world provides some explanation of Atrocitus and what his Red Lanterns are motivated by. Rage is the emotion the red coloured corps is powered by, but not just a simple "rage is bad" thing; more of a rage at injustice and providing the means to set things right. Still very early. My motivation for staying with this title to the aforementioned issue #5 is purely to see why out of all of the corps beside green, was this one deemed worthy enough of its own title. No appearance of the Red Lantern cat this issue which Jem hated and I loved! It was the flying cat in space with the power ring worn around its tail which tried to take on a ship full of vicious torturous bounty hunters that just had the most bizarre innocent appeal to me! To finish, I have to mention that Ed Benes pencils have been excellent and so far the stand out of the four Lantern titles.

Well, hope this all wasn't too bad for my first shot! Will touch on some more DC next time with my slice of the Bat Family cut with Jem which is: Batman & Robin; Batman Dark Knight; Batgirl; Nightwing and Red Hood & the Outlaws. and Catwoman.  Which I'll probably drop at issue #3 unless a miracle happens.  Thanks.

Fear Itself #7   Event books exist primarily as a sales booster and to introduce the reader to characters they may not have bothered with before, by crossing the story into as many ongoing titles as possible, and forcing the reader to (for example) start reading The Avengers if they want to follow the story of what happens to Spider-Man.  I admit this worked very well on me when Marvel released Civil War back in 2006.  Perhaps with the success of last year’s Siege event, Marvel feels they can keep doing annual events based on straight action stories alone, and while Fear Itself isn’t complete shit, it’s still a weaker event than most others.  The problem for me is there's a lot of fucking around until we actually get to this final issue, where they cram in quite a bit.  It seems this story could well have been a three or four issue mini-series, and done without the full-blown event hype.  Still, events in issue #7 fill in a couple of blanks before Incredible Hulk #1 which make it worthy enough for me.  Fear Itself might read better back to back in a collected edition but this series as a monthly has been a hard slog.  Oh, and the death of a certain character at the end?  Pointless.  With a certain movie coming out next year that “death” will last five fucking seconds.

Demon Knights #3   It was make or break for Demon Knights #3 after the second issue fell flat when I read it earlier this week, primarily because of the sheer amount of characters being introduced in a way that didn’t engage me at all, but I’m still on board while Jason and Xanadu’s story is holding my interest.  Xanadu’s casting of a magical shield over the village has left her weak and in the skin of an old woman, and Jason has been in demon form too long and has reverted back to human just as the shield is about to disappear while the Horde waits to slaughter them all. Then there’s the horrible death of the priest at Jason’s demon hand which may have further consequences.  This issue reaffirms the story does have somewhere to go without laying down a too-predictable path, and while I wait for more episodes of Game Of Thrones, this will fill the medieval fantasy void nicely.

Supergirl #3   Superman fills in the blanks for Kara about Krypton and it’s all a bit much for her to take.  As she speeds away there’s a great page that zooms in on her crying eyes while Superman exploits her super-hearing to warn her against ignoring his guidance.  Kara just wants to go home, but her search for the pod she arrived to Earth in leads her into the clutches of a nefarious self-confessed trillionaire.  My money’s on the likelihood of this twerp proving he’s bitten off more than he can chew though.  I like this book more and more, and as I mentally churn over which of the Superbooks is the best, I can’t help but seriously consider Supergirl for top spot for it’s quality straight-superhero story telling and infusion of a little more emotion than the others.  Love it.

Apologies for the format this week.  Having some cut and paste issues I couldn't fix, but should be back to normal after this.

Thanks kids.  More soon.